January 14, 2011

The Smallest of All Game: A Review of THE GREEN HORNET

(But first, why not check out my pick for 2010? The latest TV Party on up on Comic Related. This post will still be here when you get back. Honest.)

In all honesty, I think we could use a decent superhero comedy - a comedy that knowingly takes aim at its forebears, where someone knows all the rules of superheroics, and the movie reflects that.

Sadly, The Green Hornet is not that movie.

It's not a bad movie - Michael Gondry's direction is quite artful, especially during the fight scenes, and Jay Chou actually manages to play a rather cool Kato, reflecting some of the charm and grace of Bruce Lee (both in terms of fighting and overall dialogue). In fact, in many ways the movie makes a halfhearted effort....

....which is sorely sabotaged by a weak script and Seth Rogen's performance.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a vanity project - I think Rogen's script and performance would fit a very nice, very obvious super hero parody/satire. However, given that the Green Hornet is a "known" quantity, it doesn't quite gel - in fact, many of the supporting players (such as Christoph Waltz and Cameron Diaz) seem to play it as if it were deliberately campy. In short, the tone is all over the place, and the overall experience of the film is rather disjointed.

Now, I don't expect Seth Rogen (who co-wrote the script) to be Fran Striker, or Ron Fortier, or Matt Wagner, or even Martin Grams. However, this screenplay is steeped in superhero and action movie cliches - I will grant you, I like the idea of a spoiled "party boy" gaining redemption and maturing through super heroics, and it is a pretty solid take. (In fact, it's only slightly better than Kevin Smith's take for Dynamite Entertainment). However, most of the movie seems to be a hodgepodge of tongue-in-cheek humor, mindless action sequences, and knowing winks to the camera.

(And if I want all that, I can watch it on Fox. For free. And it's called Human Target).

There's enough here to warrant seeing this film...on DVD. But paying money to see it...not quite. Some 3-D sequences are spectacular, but mostly consists of bullet shells and glass flying out of the screen. Nice modern day touches help make the character feel less vintage...but the humor undercuts much of what the movie seems to want to achieve.

If you want to see a decent take on the Hornet, why not try the original movie serial?

Or better yet, bug Fox Video or a cool company like Shout Factory to release the original series on DVD?

Because both of them provide much greater entertainment value than what is showing in theaters.

The Green Hornet isn't a bad movie - it actually does have some clever touches. However, it's not very good, either.

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